Professor Francesca Hughes
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Who: Professor Francesca Hughes
Topic: Discourses talk #5, Architectures of Prediction
When: 26 April 2021, 17:00
Where: Live on Zoom, meeting ID: 961 2068 0153, link.

Architecture’s two oldest projects, the future and correction, converge in the business of prediction. Our newly augmented predictive technologies – the many loops of induction now on big data steroids – are powerfully focused on correcting the very next future. Indeed, so all-encompassing are their actions that we find the present moment strangely eclipsed, reduced as it is to the space in which past predictions are confirmed and future ones are made. In so doing time itself is effectively colonised by the filthy logics of optimisation – optimised consumption, optimised labour, optimised education.

Jacques Derrida famously reminded us French has two words for the future: le Futur, the future we can calculate and therefore plan for, andl’Avenir, that which is un-calculable and therefore unpredictable and will actually come to pass: “The Other who comes without my being able to anticipate their arrival.” How the interruption ofl’Avenir might disrupt the schedules of Le Futur hardly needs explaining today. This talk will ever so briefly explore an historic turn to a digital machine that was not binary but ternary in order to calculate the truth and ultimately the future in the form of Ramon Llull’s thirteenth-century Ars Magna. In so doing it will ask if it was the rejection of the ternary in favour of the binary that ultimately bound us to le Futur and alienated us from l’Avenir.


Professor Francesca Hughes is the author of numerous books and essays, including Drawings that Count (AA Publications, 2012), The Architecture of Error: Matter, Measure and the Misadventures of Precision (MIT Press, 2014) and most recently, Architectures of Prediction (ARQ Docs, ARQ ediciones, 2019). Having taught for almost three decades, mostly at the Architectural Association and the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, she was Head of School and Professor of Architecture at UTS Sydney from 2018 to 2020. She is currently working on a cultural prehistory of the architect’s computer, tentatively titled An Indiscrete History of the Architect’s Universal Discrete Machine.

A recording of the event can be viewed below:

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